*1316 (Prague), †1378 (Prague)
In 1334–46 Margrave of Moravia, from 1346 Roman-German and Czech King, from 1355 Roman Emperor. Son of John of Luxembourg (1296–1346) and Elizabeth of Premyslides (1292–1330), baptized Wenceslas. From the age of 13 he lived at the French court where he received excellent education and confirmation name Charles. After adventures in Luxembourg and northern Italy, he returned to Bohemia in 1333 to rule on behalf of his absent father. In 1344 he was granted the title of Margrave of Moravia; in the same year, after the Prague Bishopric was promoted to Archbishopric, he founded the metropolitan cathedral of St. Vitus. In 1346 he was crowned Roman-German King and later Czech King. He followed up the tradition of the Premyslides, as well as that of the Empire and put an end to the old concept of the country as the ruler’s personal property; he managed to calm down the rivalry between the king and nobility and he made the Czech lands the most stable part and the centre of the Empire; he made Prague his royal seat. He granted in 1348 immunity from secular power to the Prague University founded a year earlier upon the Pope’s decision. In the same year he founded the New Town of Prague and began building the Carlstein, intended as a fortress to protect the Czech coronation jewels. He was crowned Emperor in 1355 in Rome; he became one of the most important rulers in the whole history of the Roman Empire. His constitution (Golden Bull of Charles IV) of 1356 was in force for four and a half centuries. Charles added to the Czech Crown Lower Lusatia, Svidnice-Javorsko, and Brandenburg. He acquired numerous feuds in Germany. Charles strived for the economic and cultural development of the Empire and for the church reform. Charles’ court was a centre of transalpine humanism; the Emperor himself was a man of letter, which was quite unusual at that time. For his policy he was appreciated throughout Europe; he protected the Czech Lands from brigandish wars and provided for their many-sided development. The symbols of power and prime of the Czech Lands include also the magnificent stone bridge in Prague, later called Charles Bridge, founded by the ruler in 1357 in place of the destroyed Judith Bridge.